Last name: Phelps
SDB Popularity ranking: 2291
Recorded in over one hundred spelling forms from Phillipus, Philip, Phipps, Phelps, and apparently Pherps, and found through Christendom, this is a surname of Greek origins. However spelt it derives from the personal name of Ancient Greek origins "Philippos", a compound of the words "philein" meaning to love and "hippos", a horse; and hence "lover of horses". Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, was the first famous bearer of the name, and its popularity throughout Greece and Asia Minor was largely due to him. The name was borne by five kings of France, including Philip 1st, who reigned from 1060 to 1108. It entered England via France in the 12th Century and appears as "Filippus" in the "Documents relating to the Danelaw", for Lincolnshire in the year 1142. Henry Phelipe was noted in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk in 1273 and the patronymic form of the name also appears at this time, with the final "-s" being a reduced form of "son of". John Phippes is registered in the Calendar of Plea and Memoranda Rolls in 1364, and the Phipps family, the marquesses of Normandy and earls of Mulgrave, are descended from Constantine Phipps (1656 - 1723), Lord Chancellor of Ireland. A slightly more humble cousin Sir William Phipps (1651 - 1695), was born in Maine, America, where his parents had emigrated. He was originally a ship's carpenter, but was knighted by Charles 11, and rose to become Governor of Massachusetts. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alicia Philippes, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire". Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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